What is Neuropathy?
The brain is connected to the spinal cord via our peripheral nervous system, a collection of nerves that enable physical stimuli to be registered by our arms, hands, feet, legs, and other parts of the body. More than a condition, neuropathy is a disorder that occurs as a result of various factors, including injuries and medical conditions. This disorder affects the impedes the proper function of the nerves, often causing pain when there is no triggering source or not sending signals to the brain and preventing feeling when there is actual stimulus.
There are over a hundred forms of peripheral neuropathy. Depending on the underlying conditions causing neuropathy, the reported symptoms and treatment options may vary. The most commonly reported symptoms are tingling and numbing in the hands and feet. Other symptoms include, but are not limited to:
- Burning pain in hands & feet
- Stabbing or sharp pains
- Muscle weakness
- Loss of balance or coordination
- Impaired sexual function
- Organ dysfunction
Causes of Neuropathy
There is no one root cause for peripheral neuropathy, as it is actually the result of several possible factors such as medical and family history, age, and sex, among others. The leading cause of chronic neuropathy is diabetes, as high sugar levels can often damage the nerves. Other potential causes include:
Kidney or Thyroid Disease:
Dysfunctional kidneys or thyroids can cause a chemical and toxin imbalance that may afflict the peripheral nervous system.
Some types of cancer, such as lymphoma and chemotherapy treatments, may cause damage to the nerves.
Infections & Autoimmune Disorders:
Conditions like HIV, lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis can cause neuropathy due to the virus itself or drugs used to treat them.
Some medications utilized to treat seizures, high blood pressure, cancer, and viral infections may cause nerve damage.
Neuropathy Diagnosis & Treatment
During your visit, a physician will perform a physical examination and a thorough review of your medical and family history, in addition to your symptoms. Once a successful diagnosis has been determined, your physician will then consider which treatment would best treat your specific form of peripheral neuropathy. To ensure proper diagnosis, the doctor may order the following tests:
- Blood work
- Electrodiagnostic tests
- Nerve or skin biopsy
- CT or MRI scans
- Nerve conduction studies
Some treatment options may include lifestyle changes, over the counter and prescription medications, spinal cord stimulation, stellate ganglion/sympathetic blocks, lumbar sympathetic blocks, and surgery. If any of the previously mentioned symptoms are afflicting you, we recommend contacting us today and speaking with one of our expert pain management specialists.